How to Attract and Retain Developers in 2018

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How to Attract and Retain Developers in 2018

You need developers – what else is new? Experienced technical talent has options, and they know it. Competition is fierce, and poaching is as common as a signing bonus. To ensure your organization has the developers it needs, employing the right recruiting and retention strategies is critical.

Training is valuable for both. But before we go there, here are three other talent management strategies that can greatly increase your organization’s chances of attracting – and retaining – the technical talent you need.

Get your talent management function in shape.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer and information technology occupations are projected to grow 13 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations.

Recruiters need to start ramping up their efforts to fill in any current or future skills and talent gaps now. But there’s no use spending the resources and effort to bring in new talent if your internal talent management systems are broken. If retention rates are low and turnover rates are high, figure out why.

What’s your company’s reputation like in the marketplace? Is your recruiting process user-friendly? If it’s not, the best candidates may click away before they even apply.

Once talent is onboard, what’s your culture like? That’s often where companies lose out because if an organization’s culture is bad, word gets out fast in these days of Glassdoor reviews and social media rants.

Along the same vein, beware the inadvertent internal saboteur. Is there a bad apple poisoning the barrel? Is one manager or one employee – it may even be an employee deemed a rock star – running your best talent away? If that’s your situation, make a decision now: Can that wayward rock star be persuaded to shape up? Is it worth it to try?

Weigh the costs of that individual’s impact on the organization – recruiting costs, productivity lags, poor morale and employee engagement – vs. their contribution. You may discover it’s better to release that rock star into the marketplace, and focus on repairing what has been broken so new talent can come in and feel at home.

Advertise tech jobs truthfully.

To attract the best technical talent, recruiters have to create an appealing but accurate work environment with a job description. That means positioning coding and software or web development as a combination of technical and creative skills.

Be transparent about your company’s desire for talent who feel comfortable pitting their considerable wits against ambiguous problems that require new ways of thinking and crafting solutions. State clearly what candidates can expect: to work in small, close-knit teams with clear goals, to collaborate often with team members in non-technical departments, etc.

If your company can’t offer the best salaries and perks – and let’s face it, most can’t stack up to the offerings from the Google’s and Facebook’s in the industry – leverage what advantages you have: flexible hours, choice of projects, philanthropic opportunities, the chance to create software that will be used by a ton of people. All of these things can help to shape your brand in a positive way. Just make sure your recruiting platforms emphasize those market differentiators.

For instance, is 75 percent of your workforce working remotely? That’s a great lure for talent, and the talent pool from which you can choose is virtually limitless. Does your company develop software programs the healthcare industry uses to save lives? That’s a smart way to appeal to developers who want to make a difference.

Millennials in particular are attracted to companies that allow them to have a positive impact on the world. According to Fast Company, millennials “want to create shared value, make positive social and environmental changes, and increase opportunities for disadvantaged populations.” So, give ‘em what they want.

In the tech talent search diversity is your friend.

The tech industry’s diversity problem is widely known, which is unfortunate since the benefits of having more diverse perspectives on organizational teams is also widely known. If you’re having trouble finding technical talent, why not expand and diversify your recruiting pool?

Make sure your marketing and sales content appeals to women, for instance. Speak or advertise at the Grace Hopper Celebration. Chances are high that at one of the world’s largest gatherings for female technologists there are some people either looking for a job, or considering new employment offers.

Likewise, if you’ve done the work to root out pay inequities, say so. And don’t be afraid to point to any women or minorities in your workforce who are in leadership positions. But not if it’s just one person. That might actually make you look worse, not better, to a potential candidate.

These days savvy job seekers can smell desperation through a computer screen. If your organization is not currently diverse, share what steps are being made to change that. It’s also not a bad idea to hire junior female talent and develop them, which leads neatly into our last recruiting tactic.

Emphasize training. As a competitive differentiator, it never fails.

This is probably the most important tactic companies can employ to secure highly skilled developers – be known as a learning organization. Make that a key part of your brand.

To keep the best developers companies have to be offer more than just money. They have to offer a complete employment package. The best carrots to dangle include culture, challenging business problems to solve and most importantly, training.

Training is a talent attractant because it serves a dual purpose: It enables developers to do their current jobs better, faster; and it ensures they remain marketable. Savvy developers know they have to continually upgrade their skills in order to remain relevant. An organization offering the latest technical training, in learning delivery methods they enjoy, will not only retain them, that company will reap the benefits of their continuous learning.

Technology is changing constantly, and it’s changing fast. An organization that readily and willingly invests in its technical talent will not only inspire loyalty, it will increase engagement, and the ROI from those training investments likely will speak for itself.